When a loved one ages and needs more care and attention, a family member or friend will often step up to offer their assistance. This is an incredibly admirable thing and certainly can be rewarding. However, it can be common for caregivers to experience what is called Caregiver Stress Syndrome, a serious condition that can put both the caregiver and their loved one at risk. As leaders in senior care and wellness, Spring Hills can help you distinguish if this may be happening and can help you find the help or relief you may need.
What Is Caregiver Depression?
Also known as caregiver burnout, fatigue, or depression, this condition occurs when a caregiver becomes physically, emotionally, and mentally exhausted. Their attitude may turn bleak and uncaring, simply because they don’t have the energy to live up to the daily demands of caring for a loved one. This is especially prevalent among the many caregivers who are balancing work and other family responsibilities.
What Causes Caregiver Stress
At its core, Caregiver Stress Syndrome is caused by self-neglect. Family members or family friends sometimes try to do more than they are able and don’t get the help that they need. Many times, they will also have feelings of guilt about taking time for themselves instead of dedicating it to their loved one. Contributing factors include:
- Unrealistic expectations. Many caregivers think that they will see their loved one healthier and happier because of the care they provide, but the positive effects aren’t always obvious.
- Unreasonable demands. Sometimes caregivers put a lot of burden upon themselves, especially if they think that they are the only ones responsible for providing care to the senior.
- Lack of resources. Whether it’s money, skills, or other resources that would greatly help the senior’s care, it can feel very frustrating and overwhelming not to have more resources.
- Role confusion. When someone takes on a loved one’s care, it can be hard to separate their role as a spouse, partner, sibling, child, or friend, from that of the caregiver.
- Not realizing they are burning out. Sometimes, caregivers don’t notice the symptoms of burnout, even if they are getting physically sick or if others are noticing.
Caregiver Stress Symptoms
- Emotional, mental, and physical exhaustion
- Excessive use of alcohol or drugs – sleep medications, in particular
- Becoming prone to getting sick
- Feelings of anxiety and depression
- Loss of appetite
Self-Care Tips for Caregivers of the Elderly
As a caregiver, it is important to make sure you also take care of yourself. Remember that you, yourself, are important! Chances are, your loved one would never want you to feel stressed or burned out. Here are a few things you can do:
- Stay healthy– maintain a healthy diet and get plenty of sleep and exercise
- Know your limits and set realistic goals. It is OK to need help with the caregiving. Reach out for assistance when you need it and actively monitor yourself for symptoms of caregiver burnout
- Talk to someone– Whether to a friend or a professional, getting out any feelings of frustration can be incredibly therapeutic. Trained professionals, in particular, are trained to deal with these sorts of issues.
- Care for yourself. Know that it is OK to feel frustration, even anger. Strive to focus on the positive. Schedule time for yourself and only yourself – even if just one hour a day!
Preventing Caregiver Burnout with Spring Hills
Feeling frustrated or overwhelmed does not make you a bad caregiver. In fact, knowing when to ask for help makes you a smart and responsible caregiver. Spring Hills can help you and your loved one through its respite home care for seniors, allowing you well deserved time for yourself. Spring Hills will also be there if or when the time comes that your loved one needs the care that can only be provided by an assisted living facility.